Objective To establish the clinical relevance of proprioceptive deficits reported after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
Material and methods A literature search was done in electronic databases from January 1990 to June 2009. Inclusion criteria for studies were ACL deficient (ACL-D) and ACL reconstruction (ACL-R) articles written in English, Dutch or German and calculation of correlation(s) between proprioception tests and clinical outcome measures. Clinical outcome measures were muscle strength, laxity, hop test, balance, patient-reported outcome, objective knee score rating, patient satisfaction or return to sports. Studies included in the review were assessed on their methodological quality.
Results In total 1161 studies were identified of which 24 met the inclusion criteria. Pooling of all data was not possible due to substantial differences in measurement techniques and data analysis. Most studies failed to perform reliability measurements of the test device used. In general, the correlation between proprioception and laxity, balance, hop tests and patient outcome was low. Four studies reported a moderate correlation between proprioception, strength, balance or hop test.
Conclusion There is limited evidence that proprioceptive deficits as detected by commonly used tests adversely affect function in ACL-D and ACL-R patients. Development of new tests to determine the relevant role of the sensorimotor system is needed. These tests should ideally be used as screening tests for primary and secondary prevention of ACL injury.